Hawaiian-born actor Jason Momoa is bringing diversity into the superhero world by playing half-surface dweller, half-Atlantean Arthur Curry otherwise known as Aquaman.
The 39-year-old actor was in town together with co-star Amber Heard and director James Wan for the Asian premiere of their latest film, an action-packed adventure that spans the vast, visually breathtaking underwater world of the seven seas.
“I can’t believe that we’re almost in 2019 and there is no brown-skinned superhero. It’s the biggest honor to represent the islands and to represent diversity,” Momoa told the crowd at the jam-packed SM Mall of Asia Music Hall during the film’s fan meet.
Aquaman is a colossal warrior who learns of his rightful claim to the throne of the underwater kingdom of Atlantis but is also a self-ascribed outcast both above and below the oceans’ surface. He lives his life as Arthur Curry, a man raised by his surface dweller father, Tom, despite being the first-born son of Queen Atlanna. His very existence provides a potential bridge between the dwellers of the sea and the surface, but it will be up to him one day to unite them.
“Like Arthur, I was a half-breed, split between Iowa and Hawaii, so I could definitely identify with that. And from the Philippines to Hawaii to Tahiti and Fiji… Many islands have their celebrated water gods. That resonated with me instantly,” Momoa related his diverse ethnic background to his character.
Working together, Wan and Momoa sought to deliver a big screen take on the iconic DC Super Hero that honors his comic book roots, but is also a reinvention for today’s movie audiences, living in today’s world.
From the start, the director suggests, the two shared a unique understanding of Arthur’s own dilemma. “Why I think Jason really connected with this character is his being of two worlds himself,” said Wan, who also grew up divided between two different cultures.
“Jason is a Hawaiian who grew up in middle America. He never quite felt like he fit into either world. And that’s something I understand as well, as an Asian guy born in Malaysia who grew up in Australia. Having such a strong Australian upbringing, I’ve retained my Chinese/Malaysian heritage as well.”
(N. Wang, MS)